TAMPA - The University of South Florida used an offensive flurry in the third, fourth and fifth innings to dispose of Connecticut in game one of Friday’s double-header 9-2.
The win improved the Bulls to 10-1 in league play to tie DePaul atop the BIG EAST standings.
Freshman Sara Nevins earned the save, her eighth of the season, a single-season program record. The eight saves rank the freshman first in the country in that category.
The Bulls continued their domination of the Huskies as USF has won the past seven matchups between the two teams and lead the all-time series 9-2.
It took the Bulls’ bats a few innings to get going, but once they did, the Huskies had a hard time slowing them down.
USF hung two in the third, three in the fourth and four in the fifth to knock off their BIG EAST foes.
Gina Kafalas and Laura Fountain each collected two hits in the game, and each scored a pair of runs. Fountain drove in two, while Ashli Goff drove in three in a 1-for-3 day at the plate for the Bulls.
Lindsey Richardson got the start in game one and lasted just 3.0 innings allowing one run on two hits, but the sophomore walked three while striking out four before she was replaced by Brittany Bowles.
Bowles, who celebrated her 21st birthday on Friday, earned the win in relief. The junior allowed a home run to the first batter she faced but responded by getting out of the fourth inning without further damage to earn the win.
Nevins pitched the final 3.0 innings of scoreless ball allowing just no runs and no hits while striking out one to earn her eighth save of the season.
Despite a shaky first-inning full of loaded Husky bases, Richardson was able to escape a bases loaded jam by striking out the final two batters of the inning to keep the game scoreless.
Richardson escaped another jam in the second, and the Bulls’ offense would wake up in their half of the third.
The third inning marked the turnaround for the Bulls. McCarver’s reached on an error the second-baseman and moved into scoring position on a groundout by Alexis Nowell. Outfielder Gina Kafalas slapped a single up the middle to move McCarver to third, who scored on a groundball to short by Goff. With Kafalas on third, Goff stole second, and an errant throw to second by catcher Andrea Huelsenbeck allowed Kafalas to scamper home for the 2-0 USF lead.
With the outfield playing shallow, Fountain led off in the fourth for the Bulls and cranked a triple over Jennifer Ward’s head in center field. Designated player Erin Bly came up and drilled a ball to left to score Fountain on the sacrifice fly.
The bats weren’t done swinging yet.
McCarver’s singled followed by a successful Kafalas slap, putting them on second and first respectively. Goff singled through the right side for an RBI single extending the 4-2 Bulls lead. With Kafalas on third, Goff intentionally got caught in a rundown which allowed Nowell to steal home.
The three-run fourth gave the Bulls the 5-2 lead, which was all they needed. The Bulls improved to 27-0 when leading after four innings.
The Bulls would extend their lead to 9-2 with a four-run fifth, including three consecutive bases loaded walks.
Nevins fifnishe dout the game in the circle without allowing a hit or a run to earn her national best eighth save of the year.
The Bulls look to take sole possession of first place in the BIG EAST by sweeping the double-header against the Huskies this afternoon.